The comedies of Jimmy Perry and David Croft (DAD'S ARMY, IT AIN'T HALF HOT MUM, HI-DE-HI and YOU RANG, M'LORD?) have received a considerable amount of analysis from various perspectives on the BBC, as well as being the subject of several retrospective documentaries.
In this series of programs, they are treated as sociological documents, as representations of certain kinds of attitudes characteristic of the immediate post-1945 years. No new material has been added: the programs comprise clips from all the comedies interspersed with archival interviews with Perry and Croft stretching all the way back to the late 1960s.
What emerges most tangibly from the material is the emphasis on historical continuity. DAD'S ARMY evoked a particular mood during World War II, when people of all ages and backgrounds bonded together in the Home Guard to create a united front against the impending threat of Nazism. While there were obvious disagreements among the members, everyone believed that they should "do their bit" for Britain; there was a feeling of good-fellowship that was quite absent after the war had ended. Nonetheless DAD'S ARMY helped recreate that spirit of good fellowship, most notably amongst those who wanted to re-enact the war.
That same spirit of continuity was evident in the post-war holiday camps, as evoked by HI-DE-HI. The organization was dictated according to military principles, with everyone herded around from place to place, their days being filled with various forms of entertainment. Nonetheless from the sitcom it was clear that the patrons had a good time - not only listening to the entertainment, but feeling part of an environment where social class-divisions did not matter.
Such examples make us well aware how the Perry/Croft comedies were actually based on Perry's own experiences; many of the characters and incidents included in the script were based on reality. This is what makes their work so enduringly popular, even though it is nearly fifty years since DAD'S ARMY made its debut on BBC television.
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